When Locmommy told me she was pregnant, I asked her to take the rest of the pregnancy tests that came in the 3-pack. All were positive. We went to the Obstetrician the following day only to have it confirmed…we were going to have a baby. I can’t express adequately how frightened I was about being a father. I prayed for a couple of weeks that it was all a dream. Even after I saw and heard the heartbeat, you could not get me to admit that my carefully crafted life was going to change in ways unimaginable. I prayed for God to give me a son because I didn’t want anyone to ever have sex with my daughter. When that ultrasound tech told us we were having a girl, all I could think about was how much I was going to love the heck out of that little thing. I knew at that very moment how much I never wanted a boy, just my little girl that was coming.
Locmommy grew to despise me because that girl moved and kicked so much whenever Beyonce and Lil Wayne was played that of course I had to play them as much as possible. Our first of many Daddy/daughter dances. When she was born my soul cried tears of immense joy. I shook so much I couldn’t cut her umbilical cord. That girl was beautiful. Not the kind of beauty that all parents say about their kids. But the kind of undeniable beauty that words were not created to express it. While we were in the hospital I had no fears, no worries. I was ready to be her Dad. The moment we pushed through the exit doors, this immense fear hit. How were we going to do this? There’s so much little girls and women must go through, how was I going to get her through it safely. I couldn’t sleep for days because I felt so lacking. Didn’t help morale either when members of our family let Locmommy know they envision her being the only good parent while praying that I don’t mess things up too badly. (Which, by the way, is odd to me. Black fathers catch such a bad rap when I personally have not met a bad one yet. Seems unfair to put down a young, overly excited, extremely scared, and knowingly inadequate man who’s learning how to be a Dad on the fly. That’s beside the point and a topic for another conversation when we talk about the disproportionate amount of attention paid to Mother’s Day versus Father’s Day. But I digress…) I worried about her when she went for shots, when she was sick, when she couldn’t and/or wouldn’t sleep, when she cut her lip, when she was constipated, when people wore shoes in the house and tracked dirt inside, when she wasn’t gaining weight, when when when. God knows I wish I was worrying about those things again.
I worry about her a lot. Her brother, too. I’m a millennial parent. We worry about a lot of stuff. My daughter has this knack for making friends easily. She’s a people person. She used to hug everyone she could. One day a daycare teacher told me that if we don’t teach our child to be more discerning she could be sexually assaulted or worse one day. She told me I should work on breaking her spirit so she’s not so friendly and outgoing at that age. I set out to do just that. That lasted for a couple of weeks. The worst thing for a father to see is the sparkle in his baby girl’s eyes disappear and know that you were the cause. The very next afternoon as I was picking her up from the daycare, one of her little friend’s dad was getting ready to walk out of the room. She got up, looked at me and sat down. I walked over to her and whispered in her ear “Are you gonna let them go without giving them a hug?”. Poor girl was so confused so I went over, introduced myself, and hugged him. She promptly followed suit.
It’s hard enough raising children in this social media age. Society tends to impress upon our girls that they are supposed to act a certain way to be respected and look a certain way to be considered worthy. Women get raped and are blamed for it. Women can do the same type, amount, and quality of work as a man and not get paid the same. Women can be qualified for a position and be passed over just for simply being unfortunate enough to be born with the wrong genitalia. If you’re doubly unlucky enough to be a minority as well…good luck. The world is going to constantly tell her what she needs to be doing, wearing, acting, and thinking.
I don’t concern myself very much anymore with what people think of my daughter. I don’t have that luxury. My only concern is how she views herself. A few months ago, she had developed this rash on her face and body from having strep throat. We were going to see her pediatrician when the office open and I tried to keep her focused on me until then. I turned my back for a second and she saw herself in the mirror. She came and buried her face in my stomach and started crying. She said “I’m so ugly. No one will want to look at me or like me.” When we left, she refused to remove her face from my shirt whenever we weren’t in the car because she didn’t want to be seen. Before we stopped at the pharmacy I went home and got a dry erase marker. I put a bunch of little circles and dots on my face. She promptly told me I looked terrible. I asked her if she still loves me. She said yes. I told her that I still love her and she’s still the prettiest little girl I know. To prove it, I kissed as many bumps on her face that I could. Probably not a good idea since I got strep not too long afterwards.
As she’s maturing, Locmommy and I are constantly asking ourselves so many questions. How do I support her without enabling her? How do I guide her without crippling her? How do I mold her without controlling her? How do I love her without smothering her? I don’t know. I just don’t know. In today’s time, I’m just making it up as I go. But what I know I will not do…is break her.